Sunday, January 22, 2012

Uwharrie Mountain Run Practice

Uwharrie smile.  Elevation chart from mile 8 to 3 to 8 to 11.5 to 8.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting some very fast trail runners and the angriest trail I have cried on to date. Lately, I have been providing free readings of my What could this peroneal pain in my left leg mean? thesis to a wide group of expectant family, friends and random strangers.   Very keen to add another chapter, I jumped at the opportunity when Der Scott invited me to join a group of impossibly quick, certifiably crazy mountain goat people for a morning of self inflicted injury at Uwharrie National Forest.

I signed up for the February 4th 2012 20 mile Uwharrie Mountain Run sight unseen because I am twice as smart as those who signed up for the 40 mile out and back and 60% dumber than the 8 mile runners.  A sucker for wampum, I was enraptured after seeing the unique finisher's awards for this race.  A local potter throws them from the very earth that covets your destruction.  Either take a small amount of baked clay home or become a small amount of baked clay on the trail.  Add the grudging respect of many local squirrels, your orthopedic surgeon, and possibly Sasquatch for finishing a race run entirely on replica ancient ruin cobblestones and banana peals and you have a must try event.

Uhwarrie showcases conveniently located safety bags, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to break
plastic and access emergency rubber snakes , cigarettes or match box cars as needed.

The park supplies limitless comfortable seating
 with great vantages of the surrounding wild life.
The trial run has led me to re-evaluate my time estimates.  I thought 4 hours flat for 20 miles would be taking it pretty easy, but now I suspect that 11 min miles would be my upper limit and would require more than the 4 weeks to recover before the Umstead Trail marathon.  I'm thinking about 4:20 now just for the adolescent giggle factor.  That should leave me healthy enough for a long run the next week followed by a 3 week taper for Umstead, but still be challenging.  Definitely narrowed the shoe choice down to NB MT101s.  I could not believe what some of the quickies were wearing.  A lot of minimalism going on.  I identified a few Merrel's and I saw a NB minimus.  I'm pretty sure Dan was wearing a leather squirrel hide tied to both feet and Scott had his normal bedroom slippers on.

Photo borrowed from Scott Lynch.  Still early, dry and unafraid.

Uhwarrie Mountain trail appears to be 20 miles of invisible jumping rocks under a generous one ply thick cushion of slippery leaves, occasionally interrupted by streams, downed logs and poky sticks.  I was personally assaulted twice by poky sticks, lost once, and spin cycled by one cold stream from the neck down.  Every step is a direct threat to HMOs and it is really easy to lose the trail as you are constantly watching your feet.  The effort required for forward advancement makes each uphill step a major victory.  The downhills are exhilarating and impossible.   Without reservation, I fell in love with this trail.

I advanced as a mighty wild hunter from an earlier era. I focused on my Garmin.  I advanced as a modern hipster-dufus with a penchant for wicking fabrics.  I focused on the pace on the Garmin. I advanced as a slightly dangerous Peter Sagal type figure, but darker with a cool goatee, but without the liberal sarcasms, but still witty and smarter than the audience.  However you feel or whomever you are channeling Uwharrie makes you thankful to be outside and moving.  Running this trail makes you thankful to be running this trail.  Running masochism meets its origin.  I can't wait for this race.  I hope its snowing!  Maybe hail.  I hope there are locust!

Front L to R: Anthony Corriveau, Dan Beddard, Brandy Burns, Mary Shannon Johnstone.  Back L to R: Ryan McCarty, Scott Lynch, Josh Sutcliffe, Bart Bechard, Heiko Rath, Kenneth Becker.

I really enjoyed conversing with the competitor class of runners out there today.  They are very approachable when standing still.  While moving, a tranquilizer gun is required to slow them to an appropriate speed.  However this approach is illegal in many national parks and often results in garbled speech anyway.  If you wish to speak coherently with them, I found that you can completely arrest their forward momentum with beer and sweet potato fries.  Who knew.


This preview run, two weeks before the race, allowed me near race day conditions to practice blood sugar control and carbohydrate intake.  I have been fighting unusually stubborn and frequent lows running for the last 3 weeks as I have slowly ratcheted up mileage.  In response, my insulin plan for today's lunacy was a 50% reduction for the 2 hours before and the 4 hours of the run (.3 units per hour).  I ate a 19 gram breakfast bar and injected 1 unit at the -1.5 hour mark that I thought would jump start my BS to the 150+ zone.  No such luck.  Luckily, Der Scott is as corruptible as he is dedicated to running and we stopped at a McD's before Troy.  I topped off with 2 forbidden cherry pies and a large coffee, all uncovered.  I estimated 70 carbs.  Started the run at 138 BS while still stuffing the last of the 2nd pie down.  Over the next 2 hours I consumed about 54 grams of Hammer Perpetuem.  Into the halfway check point at 158.  I skipped the carbs and checked again at the 3 hour mark when the run started to feel abnormally difficult.  BS 69.  I downed the rest of the Perpetuem 54 grams, and took 2 Cliff Shot Bloks for an additional 16 grams.  Last test at the 3:45 mark shows BS138.